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Rapid PCR for Integration in Sample-to-answer Analysis Platforms

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) nowadays constitutes an important and commonly applied method for a plenitude of diagnostics such as medical diagnostics of infectious diseases. Compared to conventional approaches such as Gram staining and cell/bacteria culturing, molecular tests are often not only faster but also yield rather specific information, e.g. on the type of pathogenic agents present. Results from molecular tests thereby render specific and highly efficient therapy feasible, in particular, when implemented in systems providing results directly at the point of care (POC). Here, a rather elegant solution to integrate a fast PCR in POC systems is presented, based on the moving plug concept.

By employing simulation methods such as CFD, optimum heat transfer conditions were identified. Based on these findings a chip layout for fast and robust PCR was devised that runs 30 PCR cycles in 6 minutes. Most prominently, performance verifications were provided by testing of real samples containing genomic DNA both, from purified nucleic acids and not pre-treated whole blood. Employing simulation methods and analysing experimental results ended-up in a fast and robust PCR set-up including appreciation of key processes. Notably, the module has the potential of integration to complex sample-to-answer platforms.